Seeing No Neo-Nazi Militias in Ukraine

Exclusive: With a new Amnesty International report on possible war crimes by a Ukrainian militia against ethnic Russians in the east, the evidence is mounting that the U.S.-backed Kiev regime knowingly deployed extremists, including neo-Nazis, as part of a conscious strategy, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

In the Ukraine crisis, U.S. and European politicians and media have relentlessly condemned Russia for violations of international standards, particularly Moscow’s acceptance of Crimea’s hasty vote to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia. But the West has gone nearly silent regarding Kiev’s violation of rules for controlling armed militias, including neo-Nazi forces.

For instance, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has harshly criticized Russia’s annexation of Crimea, has refrained from similar outrage over Ukraine’s unleashing of extremist militias that have inflicted extensive bloodshed and abuse on ethnic Russians in rebellious eastern Ukraine.

Sen. John McCain appearing with Ukrainian rightists of the Svoboda party at a pre-coup rally in Kiev.

Sen. John McCain appearing with Ukrainian rightists of the Svoboda party at a pre-coup rally in Kiev.

The OSCE, which includes both Ukraine and Russia among its 57 member states, has a “Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security” which says that all members “will at all times provide for and maintain effective guidance to and control of its military, paramilitary and security forces” and that each state “will ensure that its armed forces as such are politically neutral.”

Yet, Ukraine has intentionally dispatched far-right militias, some waving neo-Nazi banners, to attack towns and cities in eastern Ukraine. Though this reality has drawn spotty recognition even in the Western media, there has been little criticism of the Kiev regime for these tactics.

Instead the typical response especially from U.S. officialdom and media has been to dismiss claims about the close association between the Ukrainian government and neo-Nazi extremists as “Russian propaganda.” That denial has held even as accounts of neo-Nazi militias have popped up in publications as hostile to Moscow as the New York Times, the London Telegraph and Foreign Policy.

An Aug. 10 article in the New York Times mentioned the neo-Nazi paramilitary role at the end of a long story on another topic. If you plowed through the story to the last three paragraphs, you would discover the remarkable fact that Nazi storm troopers were attacking a European population for the first time since World War II and that these neo-Nazi militias were largely out of control.

“The fighting for Donetsk has taken on a lethal pattern: The regular army bombards separatist positions from afar, followed by chaotic, violent assaults by some of the half-dozen or so paramilitary groups surrounding Donetsk who are willing to plunge into urban combat,” the Times reported.

“Officials in Kiev say the militias and the army coordinate their actions, but the militias, which count about 7,000 fighters, are angry and, at times, uncontrollable. One known as Azov, which took over the village of Marinka, flies a neo-Nazi symbol resembling a Swastika as its flag.” [See’s “NYT Discovers Ukraine’s Neo-Nazis at War.”]

The conservative London Telegraph offered more details about the Azov battalion in an article by correspondent Tom Parfitt, who wrote: “Kiev’s use of volunteer paramilitaries to stamp out the Russian-backed Donetsk and Luhansk ‘people’s republics’ should send a shiver down Europe’s spine.

“Recently formed battalions such as Donbas, Dnipro and Azov, with several thousand men under their command, are officially under the control of the interior ministry but their financing is murky, their training inadequate and their ideology often alarming. The Azov men use the neo-Nazi Wolfsangel (Wolf’s Hook) symbol on their banner and members of the battalion are openly white supremacists, or anti-Semites.”

Based on interviews with militia members, the Telegraph reported that some of the fighters doubted the Holocaust, expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler and acknowledged that they are indeed Nazis.

Andriy Biletsky, the Azov commander, “is also head of an extremist Ukrainian group called the Social National Assembly,” according to the Telegraph article which quoted a recent commentary by Biletsky as declaring: “The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment is to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival. A crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.”

The Telegraph questioned Ukrainian authorities in Kiev who acknowledged that they were aware of the extremist ideologies of some militias but insisted that the higher priority was having troops who were strongly motivated to fight. [See’s “Ignoring Ukraine’s Neo-Nazi Storm Troopers.”]

Inconvenient Truth

More recently, Foreign Policy’s reporter Alec Luhn encountered the neo-Nazis of the Azov and other militias in the port city of Mariupol. He wrote: “Blue and yellow Ukrainian flags fly over Mariupol’s burned-out city administration building and at military checkpoints around the city, but at a sport school near a huge metallurgical plant, another symbol is just as prominent: the wolfsangel (‘wolf trap’) symbol that was widely used in the Third Reich and has been adopted by neo-Nazi groups.

“Pro-Russian forces have said they are fighting against Ukrainian nationalists and ‘fascists’ in the conflict, and in the case of Azov and other battalions, these claims are essentially true.”

The West’s silence about this inconvenient truth is especially startling because it should come as no surprise to the European Union, which has long been aware of the extremist positions held by the Svoboda party, which emerged as a major political force in Ukraine after the Feb. 22 coup ousting elected President Viktor Yanukovych.

In December 2012, barely a year before the coup, the European Parliament expressed concern about “the rising nationalistic sentiment in Ukraine” represented by Svoboda, whose founders included admirers of World War II Nazi collaborators, such as Stepan Bandera and Adolf Hitler’s Ukrainian auxiliary, the Galician SS.

A parliamentary statement from Brussels noted “that racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic views go against the EU’s fundamental values and principles” and urged “pro-democratic parties” in Ukraine’s parliament “not to associate with, endorse or form coalitions with” Svoboda.

After the coup, which was strongly supported by Svoboda and spearheaded by its associated neo-Nazi militias from the west, Svoboda and other far-right political groups were given several ministries in recognition of their crucial role in the anti-Yanukovych putsch.

Now with Svoboda at the center of power in Kiev, the EU has muted its alarm, all the better to maintain the white hat/black hat scenario favored by Official Washington and the mainstream U.S. media. That narrative portrays the Kiev regime as the blameless white hats and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and the ethnic Russian rebels in the east as the evil black hats.

Amnesty International’s Report

Besides the fascist leanings of some Ukrainian militias, there is also the issue of their brutality. On Monday, Amnesty International issued a report condemning abuses committed by Kiev’s Aidar militia against civilians north of the rebel-held city of Luhansk.

“Members of the Aidar territorial defence battalion, operating in the north Luhansk region, have been involved in widespread abuses, including abductions, unlawful detention, ill-treatment, theft, extortion, and possible executions,” the Amnesty International report said. “The Aidar battalion is one of over thirty so-called volunteer battalions to have emerged in the wake of the conflict, which have been loosely integrated into Ukrainian security structures as they seek to retake separatist held areas.”

The Aidar battalion commander told an Amnesty International researcher: “It’s not Europe. It’s a bit different. There is a war here. The law has changed, procedures have been simplified. If I choose to, I can have you arrested right now, put a bag over your head and lock you up in a cellar for 30 days on suspicion of aiding separatists.”

The AI report continued, “Our findings indicate that, while formally operating under the command of the Ukrainian security forces combined headquarters in the region members of the Aidar battalion act with virtually no oversight or control, and local police are either unwilling or unable to address the abuses.

“Some of the abuses committed by members of the Aidar battalion amount to war crimes, for which both the perpetrators and, possibly, the commanders would bear responsibility under national and international law. “

In other words, evidence is mounting that the Kiev regime has waged its so-called “anti-terrorist operation” against ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine by using out-of-control paramilitaries, some guided by Nazi ideology. This behavior, fitting with the far-right political extremism previously known to EU leaders, also violates norms agreed to by the Ukrainian government in its commitment to the OSCE.

Yet, apparently for geopolitical reasons, the Obama administration, the EU and the OSCE have muted any criticism. This silent hypocrisy has been largely echoed in the Western mainstream media.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.


16 comments for “Seeing No Neo-Nazi Militias in Ukraine

  1. Yuliy
    September 8, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    Thank you, Robert Parry.
    Because of your work and authors like you I still have some hope for America…

  2. Hannes Baumler
    September 8, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    Thank you for not leaving out that impotant Fact. I´ve seen Interviews with these people on german media, while the Wolfsangelflag was waved in the back. And not a single word about it. Normaly we are very sensetive when it comes to Neonazis in Germany. But in relation to Ukraine, there is even the green party deniing those militias. My bet is, that they (the selfproclaimed elite) are trying to write us into war. And we have to, we have to, we have to resist. Every descent human beeing with a sense of humanism, egalism and knowledge has to stand up right now – to prevent them leading us into darkness.

    Thank you and greetings my friends – keep up the good work!

    • Abe
      September 8, 2014 at 10:39 pm

      Under German Strafgesetzbuch (Criminal Code) § 86a, the Wolfsangel and Celtic Cross are banned as “symbols of unconstitutional organizations.”

      The prohibition is not tied to the symbol itself but to its use in a context suggestive of association with outlawed organizations. Thus, the Wolfsangel is outlawed if used in the context of neo-Nazi organizations but not in other contexts such as heraldry or art. The Swastika is outlawed if used in a context of völkisch ideology, while it is legitimate if used as a symbol of Hinduism, Jainism or Buddhism.

      Symbols known to fall under the law include:
      • the Swastika as a symbol of the Nazi Party, prohibited in all variants, including mirrored, inverted etc.
      • the Wolfsangel
      • the Celtic cross in the variant used by the White Power movement. The legal status of the symbol used in non-political contexts is uncertain, but non-political use is not acted upon in practice
      • the solar cross as a symbol of the Ku Klux Klan
      • the Sig rune as used by the SS
      • the Sturmabteilung (Storm Trooper) emblem

  3. Abe
    September 8, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    Amnesty International reporting the battlefield atrocities of the Ukrainian paramilitary units is cold comfort. Let’s not forget all the great work Amnesty has done in Syria, Libya and Iraq. Expect more sensationalized reports on the East Ukrainian defense forces ’cause Amnesty is real good at reportin’. Caveat emptor.

    Amnesty International: Western instrument of war propaganda
    By Felicity Arbuthnot

    Amnesty’s record on impartiality suffered a fatal blow when they stated in 1991 that Iraqi soldiers had torn babies from their incubators in Kuwait and left them to die on the floor of the hospital’s neo-natal unit.

    Arguably this sealed the 1991 onslaught on Iraq. The story that the Kuwaiti government rewarded Amnesty with $500,000 for endorsing this pack of lies has not gone away – and as far as I am aware, to date, has not been denied.

    Amnesty suffered another own goal by organising a demonstration last year [2011], outside the London Syrian Embassy, with CAABU (Council for Arab British Understanding) calling for the overthrow of the sovereign Syrian government. A plan which was outlined by the US Embassy in Damascus in December 2005. This action arguably falls under the definition of incitement to terrorism, set out by the UN Security Council on 4th May 2012 (SC/10636).

    • September 8, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      Excellent addition. Noam Chomsky also talks about how Amnesty, while it does important work, operates from a Western-biased perspective.

      This is so glaring on the current Ukraine issue, it’s almost a joke.

    • Okasis
      September 9, 2014 at 8:20 pm

      Could not have said it better. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch – the two US NGOs most likely to be tossed out of various locations for biased reporting. Then, there is USAID, which is part of the US State Department.

      The US Media is MIA, along with Congress and the Obama Administration. The people will get in bed with anyone and any thing as long as they get paid well!

  4. September 8, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    Another necessary fact is that in May, 2013, the World Jewish Congress designated Svoboda an official “Neo-Nazi” organization:

  5. Abe
    September 8, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    The Wolfsangel (wolf-hook) symbol is a form of a Hakenkreuz (angled cross).

    A Wolfsangel is a wolf-hunting device, used in a similar way as a fishing hook. It is attached on a chain which is anchored to a tree or similar stout object, and a bait is put on the hook. When the wolf eats the bait, it swallows the hook. The chain prevents the wolf from escaping, and it can be killed at will.

    The Wolfsangel was the symbol of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich, an elite German division fighting primarily on the Eastern Front during World War II. During Operation Barbarossa in 1941, Das Reich fought in the battles of the Dnieper River crossings, Smolensk, Kiev and Vyasma. It was in the spearhead of the failed attempt to capture Moscow. In 1943, after the catastrophic defeat of German forces at Stalingrad, Das Reich helped recapture Kharkov and was thrown into the titanic battle of Kursk. Along with the 3rd SS division Totenkopf, Das Reich launched a counterattack against two Soviet tank armies, which had achieved a significant breakthrough. During the following battles the two SS divisions destroyed much of the Soviet armor, up to 800 tanks.

    After Kursk, most of the division was transferred to the West to refit, and while doing so, took part in anti-partisan operations in France. After a successful French Resistance offensive on 7 and 8 June 1944, the arrival of Das Reich troops forced the guerillas to evacuate the city of Tulle. On June 9, 1944, after arresting all men between the ages of sixteen and sixty, the SS and members of the SD ordered 120 of the prisoners to be hanged, of whom 99 were first tortured.Das Reich is infamous for the massacre of 642 French civilians in the village of Oradour-sur-Glane on 10 June 1944 in France.

    Thus the Wolfsangel symbol recalls the most violent and bloody battles against Red Army forces variously demonized in Nazi propaganda as “Jewish Bolshevik subhumans”, the “Mongol hordes”, the “Asiatic flood” and the “red beast”.

    The post-coup regime in Kiev invoked the same vicious Nazi propaganda lines in its “anti-terrorist operation” in eastern Ukraine.

    After World War II, the Wolfsangel symbol has been used by some Neo-Nazi organizations, including the Svoboda party in Ukraine. As Robert Parry has tirelessly pointed out, Western mainstream media ignore the fact that Svoboda (formerly known as the Social-National Party of Ukraine in a deliberate inversion of National-Socialism) and Right Sector armed neo-Nazi militants exploited the largely peaceful Maidan anti-government protests, and violently seized power in Kiev. Neo-Nazis leaders were given key positions in the post-coup government.

    Immediately after the putsch, the new regime proceeded to saddle the nation with IMF debt and suppress political opposition, particularly among the ethnic Russian citizenry of southern and eastern Ukraine. This led directly to referendum and secession in the region of Crimea, calls for referendum in the Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

    Thanks to the US/NATO sponsors of the post-coup regime, the Wolfangel banner is flying over Ukraine.

    Regular Ukrainian Army and National Guard forces, accompanied by vicious paramilitary provocateurs like the notorious Aidar unit, appear to have served as the bait on a geopolitical wolf-hook. However, despite the increasingly desperate efforts of western mainstream media to portray matters otherwise, the Russian bear has proven not so easily entrapped.

  6. Abe
    September 9, 2014 at 2:20 am

    Here is the real story that Consortiumnews hopefully will not ignore:

    A 05 September article by Amnesty International, “Ukraine: Mounting evidence of war crimes and Russian involvement” reveals clear bias in the non-governmental organization’s reporting on the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.

    Analysis of the 738-word article reveals that Amnesty makes more than twice the effort to place blame for human rights abuses and possible war crimes on separatist forces and “Russian troops” (380 words) than on Ukrainian government forces (140 words).

    The Amnesty article explicitly accuses separatists of “torture,” a major criminal offense under international law. There is no specific mention of “torture” in association with the Ukrainian government forces in the 05 September article, nor in the separate Amnesty report specifying abuses by those designated ‘bad apples,’ the Aidar Volunteer Battalion, in the north Luhansk region mention

    Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, states unequivocally: “Our evidence shows that Russia is fuelling the conflict, both through direct interference and by supporting the separatists in the East. Russia must stop the steady flow of weapons and other support to an insurgent force heavily implicated in gross human rights violations.”

    The evidence: a “series of satellite images commissioned by Amnesty International” that appear to have been entirely provided by the United States.

    Here’s the punchline: “The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any involvement in the fighting in Ukraine, but satellite imagery and testimony gathered by the organization provide compelling evidence that the fighting has burgeoned into what Amnesty International now considers an international armed conflict.”

    Amnesty has nailed the ‘I-word” and rendered the ‘N-word’ fully irrelevant.

    There you have it, folks. Now the UN Ambassador from Hell, Samantha Power, can confidently shriek in the UN Security Council that Russia has invaded Ukraine, because of humanitarian NGO Amnesty International’s “compelling evidence” courtesy of the United States.

    If Amnesty’s crime of complicity goes unchallenged, Washington will have its war.

  7. F. G. Sanford
    September 9, 2014 at 5:34 am

    I applaud Mr. Parry for his tireless efforts to bring to America’s attention to the deeply evil nature of what is being concealed by the administration. The real horrors, however, are likely to prove much more shocking. This administration and its apologists are likely to one day face the two words that represent the bane of every mass murderer’s existence: “Forensic Anthropologist”. The reality is not simply placing a bag over someone’s head and locking them in a cellar for a month. Tales of systematic axe murders, torture, gang rapes and various other atrocities committed by the so-called “Punisher Brigades” are beginning to leak out. There probably won’t be pictures – Nazis are far more devious and prone to self-preservation than the bozos committing war crimes at Abu Ghraib. But, there may in fact be pictures. If discovered, there will be much incentive to keep them from being released. Bodies, on the other hand, are very difficult to dispose of. And, there are thousands of Anthropologists suffering from budget and education cuts who possess remarkable skills. There are hundreds of graduate students waiting to accumulate and catalogue data for thesis writing on everything from osteology to DNA interpretation. The science is refined and reliable, and it produces irrefutable evidence. From the Kaytin Forest Massacre to the killing fields of South and Central America, even in tropical jungle climates where the soil is conducive to rapid degradation, the evidence persists for years and years and years. Even if there are no pictures, there will be graves…perhaps mass graves, the signature pathosis of the “Supreme International Crime”. There will be graduate students exhuming bodies with paint brushes, tweezers and teaspoons in the ultimate human expression of obsessive-compulsive attention to detail. Every tiny artifact sifted from the soil with a fine screen will be catalogued, described, referenced and photographed. Human bodies and the associated physical evidence are so very difficult to destroy, and will remain for years. Mark my words: there are Anthropologists from universities all over the world considering research proposals and writing grant requests. Many will be Chinese or Russians, but there will be Americans too. In the words of William R. Maples, Ph.D., “Dead Men Do Tell Tales”. Sooner or later, this one will be told as well.

    And this administration will be named as a willing co-conspirator. What an amazing legacy!

  8. Abe
    September 9, 2014 at 11:34 am

    An 08 September article by Amnesty International, “Ukraine must stop ongoing abuses and war crimes by pro-Ukrainian volunteer forces” appears to be an effort by Amnesty to insulate the regular Ukrainian armed forces from accusations of abuses and possible war crimes.

    The 07 September Amnesty briefing on “Abuses and war crimes by the Aidar Volunteer Battalion in the north Luhansk region” contains carefully worded language that depicts the Ukrainian government forces as lawful actors, the ‘good guys’ in the conflict:

    “The Ukrainian authorities cannot afford to replicate in the areas they retake, the lawlessness and abuses that have prevailed in separatist-held areas. The failure to eliminate abuses and possible war crimes by volunteer battalions risks significantly aggravating tensions in the east of the country and undermining the proclaimed intentions of the new Ukrainian authorities to strengthen and uphold the rule of law more broadly.”

    The coup regime in Kiev is throwing its most aggressive and abusive Nazi volunteer batallions under the bus to preserve its image. The very forces that enabled the Yatsenyuk junta seize and hold power in Kiev in February are being sacrificed as the requisite “few bad apples,’ thereby freeing the mainstream media to focus all its attention on the ‘real’ baddies: “Russian troops” that support “an insurgent force heavily implicated in gross human rights violations” in Eastern Ukraine, according to Amnesty.

  9. Abe
    September 9, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    Dutch Safety Board Report (DSB): Malaysian MH17 was Brought Down by “A Large Number of High Energy Objects”, Contradicts US Claims that it Was Shot Down by a “Russian Missile”
    By Prof Michel Chossudovsky and Julie Lévesque

    According to the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) Report:

    “Flight MH17 with a Boeing 777-200 operated by Malaysia Airlines broke up in the air probably as the result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside.”

    While the report does do not identify the nature of the “high energy objects”, the assessment suggests that the plane was perforated by “a large number” of unspecified projectiles.

    This preliminary assessment including photographic evidence does not suggest that the plane was hit by one or more missiles, which is Washington’s official version. As we recall, Western governments as well as the mainstream media blamed both Moscow and “the Russian-backed rebels” and claimed, without a shred of evidence, that a Russian-made Buk missile was responsible for the plane crash.

    These allegations were then used as a pretext to justify a series of tough economic sanctions against Russia.

    An important question emerges: In the light of the DSB report findings, will president Obama retract his accusations directed against the Russian Federation?

    The photographic evidence indicating machine gun like perforations (“numerous small holes”) to the cockpit as well as earlier assessments by the OSCE suggest that the plane was hit by a military aircraft

  10. F. G. Sanford
    September 9, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    @ Abe – The perforations in the cockpit area are both “intrusive” and “extrusive”. The margins of the holes are flanged both inwards and outwards. The small, 30mm size holes are of the intrusive variety. The larger, irregular holes are of the outward, “exit wound” variety, indicating firing from both sides of the cockpit. The nature of these holes absolutely, positively, beyond any stretch of the imagination or reasonable doubt RULES OUT a missile strike. Even a fragmentary warhead with proximity detonation exploding ahead of the aircraft could not produce these characteristics. As I’ve maintained from the beginning, 30mm cannon fire is the only explanation. But the REAL revelation, which nobody seems to comment about, regards “TARGET ACQUISITION”. Cannon fire relies heavily on visual target acquisition. In other words, the pilot of the fighter visually identified his target, and KNEW it was a civilian airliner. Not only does this rule out the separatists, it also raises the “false flag” issue. The smoking gun here is the decision to withhold the full report. I’ll betcha a nickel we’ll never get it!

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